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Bruce shows signs of ending slump

Bruce shows signs of ending slump

Bruce shows signs of ending slump
CINCINNATI -- There often isn't a reason, but at some point in the season, nearly every player runs into a hitting slump.

Jay Bruce was in the midst of one, though if his output on Friday is any indicator, it could be coming to an end. Bruce went 2-for-3 with a double and his 19th home run in the Reds' 3-1 over Milwaukee.

Bruce earned a spot on the National League All-Star team earlier this month, but hadn't had much good news since.

The Reds' right fielder had slowly watched his batting average decline throughout the past month, dropping from .262 to .244 in less than three weeks.

"It's killing him," said Reds manager Dusty Baker before Friday's game. "I can see it all over his face."

Bruce, who was hitting .151 in July entering Friday, has recorded just five hits since the All-Star break, with the two extra-base knocks and a walk on Friday representing a good chunk of his second-half output.

Baker gave Bruce a day off Tuesday against Arizona, hoping an rebound would come when he returned to the lineup.

"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't," Baker said. "I had nothing to lose by giving him [a game] off. He's been struggling, and he definitely needed it."

With Joey Votto and his hot bat out for the next month, the Reds will need Bruce's left-handed presence in the lineup.

With most clubs hindering Bruce's efforts by employing a drastic shift in the infield, Baker said Bruce needs to start knocking opposite-field hits to get back on track.

"The one thing you'd like to see him [do] is start to [use the] opposite field and march your way back," Baker said. "There's a lot more hits to the opposite field than the pull side. Look at most of the guys hitting high for an average, [they] are straightaway or opposite-field hitters. That's something that Jay can do, but he has to get to the point of trusting himself that he can do it."

The Reds need Bruce's bat now more than ever, and Baker gave a voice of confidence Friday, saying a slump can end just as quickly as it began.

"Maybe he'll get a cheap one here or there, and that's how it usually starts," Baker said. "Then all the pressure seems to just [fall] off your shoulders."

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